Rob Warden to leave Center on Wrongful Convictions next summer


Source: The Center on Wrongful Convictions

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (left) speaks to Rob Warden (far right) at the August signing of a bill aimed at preventing wrongful convictions. Warden will resign his post as the executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions next summer after 15 years at the helm.

Joseph Diebold, Campus Editor

Rob Warden will retire as director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions in August 2014, Northwestern School of Law Dean Daniel Rodriguez announced earlier this month.

Warden co-founded the clinic, which has gained state and national recognition for its work in pursuing justice for wrongfully convicted inmates, in 1999 with former law Prof. Lawrence Marshall. Warden will become executive director emeritus of the center.

“No single person has done more than Rob Warden to advance the cause of the wrongfully convicted,” Rodriguez wrote in a message to the law school’s faculty and staff. “We are excited that we will celebrate his accomplishments during the 15th year anniversary of the CWC’s founding. And we look forward to continuing to benefit from his wisdom this year and in the future as he assumes emeritus status.”

Law Prof. Steven Drizin (Law ’86) has already left his position as the center’s legal director to become assistant dean of the Bluhm Legal Clinic.

Law Profs. Karen Daniel and Jane Raley, both of whom were hired by the CWC in 2000 as the first two staff attorneys, will become the center’s legal directors.

“Karen and Jane were the obvious choices to take over as Legal Directors,” Drizin wrote in Rodriguez’ message. “They are two of the finest post-conviction and appellate attorneys in the country, often finding creative ways to win for their innocent clients where others before them have failed.”

Daniel told The Daily it is too early to know the plans for the center in Warden and Drizin’s absence, but she said she is excited to work with Raley to move the center forward.

“Jane Raley and I have worked together since we both started at the same time at the center,” Daniel said. “We were hired together. We actually used to share an office. We’ve always taught together. We’ve worked together on many cases, although we’ve also worked separately, and we get along great. I just think we’re a great team, and I love working with Jane, so I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Warden has a long career as an investigative journalist, including founding Chicago Lawyer magazine in 1978. He was elected into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame in 2003. Daniel offered effusive praise for Warden’s work in bringing the issue of wrongful convictions into the public consciousness.

“Even before the center, he started the focus on wrongful convictions, the possibility that innocent people were being convicted in Illinois,” she said. “He started that back when he was writing stories, when few other journalists were writing stories on that subject. He’s written more, studied more, probably than anybody in the country on this subject.”

As for when next summer rolls around, and the center has two heads in charge instead of one?

“It’ll be twice as good,” Daniel said, laughing.

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